The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival is all about beauty, freedom, and… OK, yes, sex, drugs, and rock and roll.
The rock aspect had its share of controversy, with Justin Bieber being accused of lip synching and Ariana Grande attacking the press on his behalf.
But it’s the sex part we need to talk about right now, and the possible consequences thereof.
There was something of a stir in the medical community over the weekend after reports of a spike in herpes diagnoses.
It all started when HerpAlert — an online diagnosis and treatment website — reportedly saw an increase in STD cases during the first weekend of the festival.
According to the site, over 1,105 cases were diagnosed in the Southern California area in the first six days since the start of Coachella — an area where normally one would expect to see only about 72 in that time period.
That’s an increase of over 1400 percent. Sounds pretty scary to us!
But maybe not?
Naturally, Billboard wanted to check out the stats for themselves (probably just to see if it broke any records — ha!), so they reached out to the real experts.
According to the actual local health professionals, fears of a herpes outbreak may in fact be a little rash.
Jose Arballo, public information officer for the Riverside Department of Public Health told the outlet:
“I reached out to our lab departments, disease control and our HIV and STD program and none of them reported a spike in herpes cases.”
So was the app just glitching? Not necessarily.
A big clue is in the reported 250 cases in the first two days alone.
Dr. Jill Grimes, author of Seductive Delusions: How Everyday People Catch STDs, explained:
“My first reaction is that the whole thing is kind of silly because symptoms don’t typically show up in 24 hours. It can take anywhere from two to 12 days for symptoms to appear, although the average is three to four days. Typically it’s a situation where a person hooks up on the weekend and starts having symptoms on a Tuesday.”
Meaning if people were on the app reporting symptoms in the first two days of the fest they may have been looking for information BEFORE any potential sexual activity.
Or, you know, just being overly concerned about whatever the desert equivalent of rug burn is (Sand burn? Oh, or sunburn, da doi).
Even the person in charge of the app in question doesn’t think fear of an epidemic in the bohemian community is warranted.
HerpAlert medical director Lynn Marie Morski clarified to Billboard:
“There were many coming to get medication to treat and prevent flares. We see it as people deciding to take proactive care of their health and the health of those they may interact with over the weekend. We do not have a number of diagnosed new cases, as sometimes we cannot determine via their history and photos, so we have to advise they see a provider in person.”
Hmm. So probably not as scary as the initial report — but still a lot of STDs going around.
And more than statistics might lead you to believe.
An official with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health cautioned:
“Herpes is not a reportable disease, as it is very common and has extremely rare complications; so trends in herpes cases are not easily tracked.”
Stay safe out there, y’all!
Note: Those pictured are festival-goers, NOT those diagnosed.
[Image via Coachella/YouTube.]
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